The Psychology Of Olfaction: How Smell Can Influence Your Mood And Behavior

Psychology Of Olfaction

5. Olfaction and relaxation

According to a 2005 study, specific scents can effectively influence our mood and make us feel relaxed by invoking a muscle-relaxing effect. The study found that certain odors and fragrances can help to reduce stress. This is where Aromatherapy comes in. Wellness coach Elizabeth Scott, MS explains Aromatherapy has been shown to carry many benefits in terms of wellness and stress relief.” She adds “Studies have shown that aromatherapy does indeed have an effect on brainwaves and can alter behavior.

According to a 2016 study, rose water aromatherapy can help to significantly reduce anxiety. The study found that “rose water noticeably reduces anxiety” and it can improve our “emotional and spiritual condition,” as well. Another 2013 study found that “lavender oil may be an effective medicament in treatment of several neurological disorders. Several animal and human investigations suggest anxiolytic, mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic, and anti-convulsive and neuroprotective properties for lavender.”

Read also: 15 Ways to Naturally Reduce Anxiety

How to use scents to improve your mood

Now that you know how scents and olfaction can impact your mood, behavior and wellbeing, it is important that you learn how you can use your sense of smell to your advantage. You can use scents to invoke certain memories, and also use them to feel a certain way and feel more creative and relaxed as well.

Here’s how some scents and odors can help you set your mood:

  • Citrus scents helps you feel more awake, active and calmer
  • Orange scents helps to reduce anxiety
  • Vanilla scents have a strong relaxation effect. It improves blood pressure and stabilizes heart rates.
  • Peppermint scents improve muscular performance and are physically energising. It also increases memory and alertness
  • Cedar scents helps to reduce tension
  • Lavender scents are a natural relaxation and sleep aid. It improves cognitive performance & has other mild sedative and calming effects.
  • Jasmine improves the quality of sleep and reduces anxiety after waking up
  • Rosemary scents help in improving long-term memory. It also boosts mood, performance & feelings of contentment
  • Grapefruit scents are very energizing.
  • Lemon and Jasmine scents are known to improve thinking and cognitive performance
  • Cinnamon-vanilla scents are excellent for improving creativity
  • Burning Frankincense helps to reduce anxiety and depression
  • Rosemary and Grapefruit scents increase energy & boost long-term memory 
  • Ylang-Ylang is good for de-stressing and has a strong calming effect
  • Lemon scents are good for stress relief and mood enhancement. It has antidepressant effects.
  • Geranium plant scents help to relieve stress
  • Bergamot, a fragrant citrus fruit, can help to relieve anxiety
  • Chamomile flowers promote calmness and relaxation
  • Valerian scents are popular for its anxiety-reducing effects. It also helps with improving sleep quality
  • Smell of Chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation

Read also: 25 Interesting Psychology Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

Awaken your olfactory senses

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” – Helen Keller 

Smell can influence our mood, behavior, memory, attraction, stress, performance, sleep and many more. The fact is, our overall well being is greatly dependent on the health of our sense of smell. “Recognizing the power of specific smells in your day-to-day life gives you the ability to use fragrance as a tool to create a psychological state of mind on demand,” says Christopher Bergland. So if you want to gain better control over your mood and behavior, then focus more on the power of olfaction. 

Rachel Herz concludes “The next time you smell a scent that you like, see if you can figure out where you first experienced it and then also reflect to yourself whether you feel any mood change and if that mood makes you want to do anything in particular.

Read also: Priming Psychology: How To Influence Someone’s Thoughts and Behaviors

Here is an interesting video that you may find helpful:


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